Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Birding in Mennonite Country-2010

Spreading manure on the fields

There are many Old Order Mennonite farms north of the city and the surrounding country side is the winter home of Snowy Owls, Rough-legged Hawks, and Bald Eagles. We were unable to find any owls or eagles this past weekend but driving here is always interesting. One cannot complain about bitter cold temperatures when you pass a horse and buggy on the shoulder of the road or watch farmers at work in their frozen fields. Small children in the back of buggies were bundled under layers of heavy blankets and white vapour enveloped the heads of horses as they pulled their loads.

Country auction

We passed an auction house in a small town and the parking lot was full of motorized as well as horse drawn vehicles.

A small picturesque bridge crosses the Conestoga River at Three Bridges and I waited at the side of the road to see if I could get a picture of the buggy crossing the span. I try to be as inobtrusive as possible when taking pictures of Old Order Mennonites so I waited at a respectful distance from the roadside. I was surprised to see the buggy pull in and park beside my vehicle where I had stopped to look at birds around a feeder. Unknown people had placed seed and suet on trees at the trail entrance and I wondered if the occupants of the buggy were the ones who were putting out feed. They were enjoying the many birds there.

A male Hairy Woodpecker worked hard at the frozen suet. The picture below of the back of his head shows well another difference between this bird and the smaller Downy Woodpecker. The red patch on the back of his head is dissected by a black line while the male Downy has a single red patch as well as black spots on the outer white tail feathers.

In 2008 I wrote another post entitled Birding in OOM Country. Life has not changed here in the past months or decade and I would expect that if I went birding here in 2015, things would be much the same.

Hairy Woodpecker


  1. It is fascinating to see the way these people live.My guess is that they would frown on having their picture taken.

  2. Nice photos Ruth. I'd like to show up to work in a horse and buggy. I'll bet that must be an enjoyable way to get around.

  3. I so love these pictures and it makes me miss this region immensely. It is a rich experience to live so closely and to be able to observe this community. Thanks!

  4. OOM are one of my favorite things in our region. I am so intrigued with their way of life. I have noticed (especially this year) that there seems to be a decline of buggys on the road. I wonder if the "advancement" in our ways is giving them no choice but to follow...to a small degree. It would sadden me to see them change. Nice to see that they also enjoy the good things in life...like birding.

  5. I think they are cheating by using modern, rubberized, air-filled (I presume) tires. ;)

  6. The Mennonite country seems like another land. Great pictures.

  7. Anonymous5:31 pm GMT-5

    I enjoyed looking over your blog
    Great photos
    God bless you


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